University undergraduate students studying in the Monica Partridge Building Digital Hub. Friday November 5th 2021.Cole Pearce; Jane Israel (denim jacket) and Francis Adam (black and white hoodie)

How to write a personal statement

Finding the right words to include in your personal statement can be tricky, but we're here to guide you through it.

Writing a first-class statement

You know we’re a good match, now all you’ve got to do is tell us why. Your personal statement is an opportunity to tell us everything about you and how special you are but finding the right words can be tricky. If you’re tired of sitting in front of a blank page for hours on end, searching for the best way to describe yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our top tips for writing a personal statement.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement forms part of your application to study at university. It’s your chance to articulate why you’d like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience you possess that demonstrate your passion for your chosen field.
Your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of 95 characters (including spaces); whichever is shorter.

What to write about in your personal statement

You! No one knows you better than you know yourself. You need to tell us why you’re the perfect candidate for the course and what makes you stand out from the crowd.

A helpful way of ensuring you strike the right balance is by splitting your statement into sections:

  • At least 75% of your personal statement should be related to what you want to study, and why you want to study that subject. Be genuine and refer to topics you've already studied and your wider interests in the area. It's also worth reflecting on any reading that you’ve done on the subject or relevant work experience.

  • The remaining 25% of your statement should cover any other achievements. This is where you show us that you’ve taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Are you on a school sports team? Have you conducted any charity work? Do you have a part-time job? Include relevant examples that demonstrate you have the skills needed during your time at university. It’s time to boast about how brilliant you are! 

However, getting these details down isn't always easy, and some people find it helpful to make notes over time. Carrying a notebook with you or setting up a memo on your phone can be useful. Whenever you think of something useful for your personal statement, jot it down.

Top Tip: It’s important to remember that you only write one personal statement – it remains the same for each course you apply for. So, avoid mentioning any universities by name. If you’re applying for more than one subject (or it’s a combined course) it’s crucial to include common themes or reference the overall skills needed for all subjects.

How to write your personal statement

Just like you, your personal statement should be unique, so there’s no specific format to follow when it comes to putting pen to paper. That said, we have compiled some general guidelines for you to follow:

  • Write simply and naturally – don’t use complex language to impress, it often doesn’t read well 
  • Be enthusiastic and excited – we want to see your genuine passion (and enjoy reading about it) 
  • Structure your personal statement to reflect the skills and qualities universities value most – read the course descriptions for inspiration 
  • Read it aloud – this can help you spot any potential mistakes and provides an opportunity to edit the text to make the statement sound more natural 
  • Don’t copy – UCAS runs your personal statement through plagiarism software to make sure your statement is original 
  • Overwrite then edit – when working on your first draft it’s important to get down as much information as you can, you can refine the copy to suit the character count later 
  • Don’t settle on draft one – come back to your statement a few days after completing your first draft, you’ll likely want to redraft certain sections after coming back with ‘fresh eyes’ 
  • Ask for advice – get your teachers, advisors and family to take a look and don’t be offended if they offer suggestions or changes, they want to help you succeed 
  • Run your statement through a spell-checking programme – then double-check the spelling, punctuation and grammar and correct

We recommend you write your personal statement first, then copy and paste it into your online application once you're happy with it. Make sure you save it regularly, as it times out after 35 minutes of inactivity.

Need more application tips?

Life is full of opportunities and studying at the University of Nottingham could be your biggest yet! If you’re looking for more application guidance, head over to our 'Applying' hub.

Open Day June 2022